Today an Eyes on Animals team visited a calf-fattening farm belonging to Jacob Beeker, in the Netherlands. Jacob runs a very unique and special farm. He buys the unwanted male jersey calves from an organic dairy farm. Small male calves are normally taken away from their mother right after birth and killed because they are considered to not have any economic value. At Jacob´s farm, they are given a very good life. In the summer they graze freely in a large nature reserve and in the winter they are housed in a large barn with thick straw. On top of this, the calves are nursed and cared for by foster mother-cows. It is wonderful to watch how these foster-mother cows take care of the Jersey calves and let them nurse milk from them. To keep the foster-mothers producing milk, once in awhile they also give birth to their own calf. Jacob explained to us that the foster mother-cows know exactly which calf is their own, and which ones she is fostering. “ These calves are given extra attention, licked more by the mothers and grow the fastest and strongest”. Jacob is very pleased with the foster program. All of his calves grow strong and quickly, are healthy and confident. When they reach 2 years of age, they are then sent for slaughter. “ But one of the foster-mother cows can stay here forever, even when she stops producing any milk at all. With her I have a special bond. She is very intelligent and the best-caring foster mother of them all”, Jacob told us.
We would like to thank Jacob for the tour of his farm. We have deep respect for the way he has gotten involved to give small calves from the dairy industry, usually considered worthless, a very good life. We hope other dairy farmers and calf farmers will adopt this concept of using foster mothers. Eyes on Animals will in any case spread the word about how positive this is to other people in the industry. To learn more about his farm or, if you eat meat and want to be sure the meat comes from an ethically responsible farm where the animals had a really good life, please visit his website: Jersey vlees.